the official website of
Bob Nailor

A Look at the Book… Cover

Today in the world of self-publishing and the Indie writer, there is more than just writing the book. The writer must consider all aspects of the process from concept to completion. The Indie author wears many hats, all dependent upon their skills and/or ability to find competent associates to assist.


To be noticed, the book cover has many points to ponder.

The first and most important item to address in the idea of your book cover is your reading audience. There are many dynamics and they cross over, blending with one-another to pin-point your reader.

These dynamics are: (not inclusive by any means!)

Color plays an important in your book cover. One would not normally consider a pink cover for a horror book, nor would you be drawn to a dark page for a book of children's poetry. Again, dependent upon your reading target, colors will be critical choices to make. Thrillers tend to have darker colors because they emote a sense of fear. Humans have an aversion to the dark and a natural fear of it. Pastel colors are supportive of happiness, youth and older aged readers.

There are the primary colors: red, blue and yellow. The complimentary colors are: purple, green and orange. Strangely, blue and orange compliment each other. Purple is the compliment of yellow and green compliments red.

Create a color wheel. Draw a circle with 6 points evenly space around it. Starting at point 1 (you decide where) mark it RED, next one to it will be ORANGE and continuing on with YELLOW, GREEN, BLUE, PURPLE. You now have the colors, primary and complimentary.

A market secret: Red draws the eye and makes one hungry/desirable. Yellow emotes an idea of value/worth. Blue is relaxing/cooling. Use this to your advantage.

Following up the with the colors is the choice of font. Size is critical. Too large can elicit a dismal reaction and too small will not catch the reader's eye. Bold fonts, non-serif types are great for thrillers, mysteries, horror and such, while serif fonts are better choices for romance, Christian and traditional novels. Again, the target reading audience will help guide you in your decision. Younger readers prefer the bolder fonts while elder readers rely on the familiar traditional serif fonts. The trick is to know your target audience and choose accordingly.

First and foremost is to choose an image that speaks to the reader about the book and, at the same time, doesn't clutter the cover or detract from the font. Use graphics as focal points that draw the eye rather than filling the space.

Divide your book cover into three points of focus. Decide which item will be the first thing to grab a reader's eye. Will it be the book title? The author's name? A graphic? Those are the three items most book covers should focus on and it is up to you and the book cover artist to decide in the order which the reader will notice. It is this magnetic pull which will get the reader to your book. A well-known author will sometimes have their name be the #1 attraction on the cover, followed by the title and then graphic. In the reverse vein of thought, an unknown writer will use either the graphic or book title to grab the reader.

There are other aspects to play into the book cover's development, but these are the basics which will help make your book be noticed. If you can't do it yourself, hire a professional and there are several very reasonable book cover artists out there willing to give you a great cover for under $100. Seek out their services and check their websites with examples and samples of their work.

You spent a lot of time writing your book. You should have spent a lot of time editing your work AND you should have invested in a professional final edit of your novel. Now you have the book cover which is the first thing a reader sees at the book store. You don't get a 2nd chance for impressions. A crappy book cover is ignored very seldom does a reader look at a bad book cover, pick it up, read the back page blurb and then open it to read a few pages. Get the cover right and the back page right the opening will come and even a sale, perhaps.

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Scott Bury
Excellent advice. I never thought before about dividing the cover into three areas, one for title, one for the image and one for the graphic. That could be very helpful.
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Scott Bury
Excellent advice. I never thought before about dividing the cover into three areas, one for title, one for the image and one for the graphic. That could be very helpful.
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Charles Dougherty
Good job of covering a broad topic in a concise post, Bob.
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James Prescott
Spot on as ever Bob, love it!
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